The Los Angeles Times (8/1, Mestel) “Booster Shots” blog reported that smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and “being overweight in middle age” may all cause “the brain to shrink,” according to a study published in the journal Aug. 2 issue of Neurology. After assessing 1,352 middle-aged people for vascular risk factors and following them until they underwent magnetic resonance imaging scanning and cognitive testing between the ages of 61 and 67, researchers found that “brain shrinkage was linked to all four risk factors, although the pattern differed in each case.”
People with hypertension “experienced a more rapid worsening of test scores of planning and decision-making, which corresponded to a faster rate of growth of small areas of vascular brain damage than those with normal blood pressure,”HealthDay (8/1, Salamon) reported. “Those with diabetes in middle age experienced brain shrinkage in…the hippocampus faster than those without, and smokers lost brain volume overall and in the hippocampus faster than nonsmokers, with a more rapid increase of small areas of vascular brain damage.”
WebMD (8/1, Hendrick) reported, “Obese people at middle age were more likely to be in the top 25% of those with the faster rate of decline in planning and decision-making skills.” Notably, study participants with a “high waist-to-hip ratio were more likely to be in the top 25% of those with faster decrease in their brain volume.” The CNN (8/1, Henry) “The Chart” blog also covered the story.